June 20th is World Refugee Day
Liep Wan Loang, 35 years old
Liep was calling his wife, whom he hadn’t seen or spoken to since December 2013. He wanted to know how she was and to ask about his children. He told his wife, “I miss you and our children, but don’t worry, I’m doing well.”
Nyanding Kuang Puol, 31 years old
Nyanding was calling her children who fled the fighting in December 2013. She has seven children and lost contact with them soon after they left. She wanted to know they were safe. She wants the children home so she can look after them, but for now she knows that’s not possible.
Wan Kiir Wan, 39 years old
Wan was calling his wife. He hadn’t spoken to her since March 2014. He wanted to know how she was and to encourage her to be patient. “In time,” he told her, “we will be together again.”
Nyiakubo Wiyual, 16 years old
Nyiakubo was calling her brother whom she thought had been killed in the fighting. She hadn’t heard from him since 2013. During the call she started to cry. “I am crying because I thought that my brother had been killed, but now I hear his voice. I’m so happy,” she said.
Chiey Yak Puok, 33 years old
Chiey was calling his sister, who he had last seen in 2013 when she escaped from the fighting in Akobo. His message for her was simple: “Two days ago my wife gave birth to a baby girl. You are an aunt!”
Nyanchan Maluol Mot, 19 years old
Nyanchan was calling her sister. She was in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Juba. They hadn’t been in contact since 2013. She wanted to tell her sister they had found another relative in Juba and hoped to put them in contact with each other so that her sister would not be alone.
Chieu Lam Turuk, 18 years old
Chieu was calling her husband who was studying in Addis Ababa. They hadn’t been able to speak since April 2015. She had news for him: she was pregnant! But she wanted him to know she was fine and that he must continue with his education.
Chol Lul Walou, approximately 60 years old
Chol was calling her daughter and son-in-law, with whom she had lost contact in December 2013. They were now living in Khartoum, Sudan. When the war started, Chol was left alone and she has nobody to help her. She asked her family to send clothes and money. “Because of the war I have nobody,” she said.
Simon Lam Yiek, 33 years old
Simon was calling his brother in Juba. They lost contact in December 2013. He wanted to tell him the family here was well, but needed clothes, which Simon was hoping his brother could send. He also wanted his brother to send a photograph, so he could see he was doing ok.
June 20th is World Refugee Day. An unprecedented 59.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 20 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Many times in the rush and chaos of fleeing war and conflict, family members become separated. The Red Cross is there to help, providing reconnection services across the globe to help loved ones find each other. In South Sudan, the International Committee of the Red Cross and a team of South Sudan Red Cross volunteers are doing just that through services that include free phone calls, hand-written Red Cross messages for conveying family news, and a photo album of displaced South Sudanese published in a 'Snapshot book'. For these refugees, a simple three minute phone call provides an incredible peace of mind.
To date, more than 112,000 phone calls have been made, 7,700 messages have been hand-delivered and 700 people have been reunited with their families. Photographer Giles Duley recently went to Akobo, South Sudan to document the project and ask ‘If you had three minutes, who would you call?’
All photos © Giles Duley / ICRC
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
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